Along with your standard court documents, the Supreme Court today issued a curious PDF: page after page of coordinates mapping the ocean-side border of California. It's far more specific than any map you've seen, and this has been going on since 1947.

Why is the border of California of such longstanding national interest? Oil and gas. Back in 1947, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. California that everything more than the three nautical miles off of the coast California was actually federal land. Since then, the court has issued five additional decrees outlining that state-federal border in more detail.


These decrees might look like numerical gobbledygook, but they determine who gets to lease out lucrative land to energy companies. Offshore drilling has since become a significant part of California's oil and gas production. Most famous—or perhaps infamous—are the oil-rich fields of Santa Barbara Channel, site of the U.S.'s largest oil spill at the time in 1961. Santa Barbara Channel is located entirely in federal lands.

Map nerds, you can read the whole decree below. Of course, because it's the Supreme Court, the map coordinations only seem to be published in a PDF for now. [Supreme Court h/t @jeremybowers]